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RAW Thoughts, WM23 Line-Up, Surprising
Ratings News, and Lots, Lots More 
February 6, 2007

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


In any given week, I see or hear plenty of things that further deplete what's left of my faith in humanity. But rarely have we had a Banner Seven Days on the "People Are Retarded" front than we did in the past week....

I mean: wall to wall coverage of a fricking HORSE dying on my sports shows? Now, if somebody decided to euthanize a JOCKEY, that MIGHT be a story, though I suspect most people would still only be pretending to care.

Or: the Cartoon Network having to pay $2 million because the citizens and authorities of Boston are significantly dumber

than people in a dozen other US cities, where nobody spazzed out over advertising for some dumb TV show? That's just crazy. Boston shouldn't be getting money to pay for the "panic" and they sure as hell shouldn't be arresting anybody. They should collectively lock themselves in a closet for about 3 days, out of pure shame.

And my new perennial favorite: advertising that tells you to watch the Super Bowl so you can SEE SOME ADVERTISING! How utterly soul-crushing that there truly are people so vapid and devoid-of-having-a-life that they can be stimulated to action by commercials that are FOR OTHER COMMERCIALS.

I don't want to get all Hitlerian on you, but it's probably a good thing I'm not the Emperor of All Time and Space, because I'd have American cleansed down to a lean, mean 50 million or so people who are actually allowed to pass along their biological materials to another generation in no time. The other 300 million? Ejected directly into the sun, where they can no longer do any harm, just like on that one Halloween Episode of the Simpsons.

Here's some wrestling for today....

  • Starting off, I've got to give some credit to RAW. Last night was pretty much the third week in a row where I found myself roundly entertained... the key all three weeks? A well worked and satisfying main event: the street fight two weeks ago, the tag title change last week, and last night it was a lengthy and dramatic #1 contender's match. 
    End strong, and Rick's always more apt to be happy, so thanks much, WWE.
    My heart's not necessarily into a whole Recappening, but really quickly, let's go segment by segment from last night, so that you can get an idea for how well the show fit together...
    Place-setting Opening Segment. It's kind of contrived that they'd bring all the players to RAW so that Undertaker could announce which champion he'll face at WrestleMania, but after last week's Three Brand Tour by Taker, I guess it's a contrivance I can forgive. Once the ring is full of champs, Taker picks Batista. No surprise there.  With that settled, Shawn Michaels hit the ring and declared his intentions to now go after Cena's WWE Title at WM23. But that brings out Randy Orton, and then Edge, who both want Cena, too. Mr. McMahon then hits the ring to sort things out, and sets up a few matches for later tonight: first, since it sounds like everybody's afraid to face ECW Champ Bobby Lashley, Vince is daring the RAW locker room to send somebody out here to wrestle Lashley later tonight. And then: it'll be Edge vs. Orton vs. Michaels in a #1 Contender's Match as our main event. Works for me. The pieces are not only falling into place for WM, but were also nicely arranged for the rest of tonight's show. That's always a very fine goal to have for any opening 15 minute segment of talky-talk.
    Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, and Chris F. Masters beat Cryme Tyme and Carlito. Decent little 4 minute TV Special. The World's Greatest Tag Team doubled up on Carlito late in the match to score the win.
    Backstage Stuff: Vince announced that he's heard from Donald Trump, and Trump will be in the arena next week, when RAW airs on a Very Special Thursday Night. Vince insinuates that this is dandy with him, because he's got a Very Special Club that he'd like Trump to join. Uh huh.... then Flair cut a promo saying he's sick of feeling like he's spinning his wheels, so tonight, he's gonna beat Jeff Hardy and prove to the world that he's worthy of an IC Title shot at WM23... and then Melina and Titties McSuperbowl had the sort of exchange which illustrates exactly why Candice Michelle is so repellant. Is there any less-natural an on-screen personality than her?
    Umaga squashed Balls Mahoney. Huh, no real explanation for why Balls is here from ECW, but following up on last week's TV (where all the "ECW Originals" got jobbed out to craptacular New Wave ECW stars like Bob Holly), this continues that trend and may signal an on-going angle. Only 9 months after it might have been useful, but better late than never, maybe? [Sidebar: if this in any way leads to a "re-invention" of ECW as something distinctive and a bit more "extreme," then Umaga would be a surprisingly ideal choice to be a top heel for the brand.]
    Super Crazy beat Johnny Nitro. Super Crazy is definitely catching on with his "I'm Super. I'm Crazy. I'm SOOOOOOOPER KUH-RAAAAAZY" bit... no surprise to me. That had the stink of catchphrase on it from minute one. Crazy's reward: a pretty easy win over Nitro.
    Mickie James beat Melina to retain the Women's Title. Super Crazy and Nitro stayed on hand to second the women. Finish was a bit sloppy, but the basic idea was that Nitro was supposed to be trying to interfere, but Crazy tackled him, allowing Mickie to roll Melina up for the win. Pretty good stuff, here. Good enough that there was even a "Let's Go, Mickie" chant at one point.
    Jeff Hardy beat Ric Flair. Good start, then Hardy "hurt himself" on some flippy move, and Flair capitalized by going after the wounded knee. From there, pretty much formula, with Hardy winning with a surprise roll-up when Flair took too much time cinching in the Figure Four. Flair teased going apeshit, but calmed himself down and shook Jeff's hand, instead. Hmmmm...
    Backstage: Todd Grisham interviewed Batista about being challenged by the Undertaker. Batista gave of a casual air of confidence. What the hell? Did somebody finally tell him to go back and watch tapes of himself from late 2004 and early 2005? If so, bravo, cuz that's the first Batista Speaking Part in ages that I thought felt compelling and natural.
    Bobby Lashley beat Kenny Dykstra. Holy crap, did they ever decide to milk their one week opportunity to showcase Lashley to the RAW audience. A full 12-minute match, here, complete with elaborate "boxing-style" ring introductions by Lilian Garcia (mmmmmm, Lilian....). Good showcase for Lashley, since obviously, they were making a big deal out of how Kenny couldn't possibly match power with him, but then Lashley also got to show that he might be Kenny's equal in terms of speed/agility, too. Match turned in Kenny's favor when Lashley took a sweet bump onto the steel rampway. Lashley made a comeback that resulted in about 3 minutes of solid back-and-forthy, until he put Kenny away with an Overhead Drop Power Slam. How sad is it that Lashley had to come to RAW to have his first halfway decent match of 2007? No Tests here, thank god.
    Backstage: Carlito and Torrie Wilson are heading out early for a night on the town, when they bump into Ric Flair. And Flair gets all Crazy Old Man on them. He says that he can't believe that he's losing his spot to guys like Carlito, who don't respect the business and who leave shows early to go party with "girls like that." It drives Flair nuts, because he starts to forget who he even is when he gets pushed aside for this young punks with their shitty work ethic... the FANS all still know who Flair is, though, and some day, Flair just might have to beat some respect into Carlito and his ilk. Huh. Kinda odd to hear *Flair* railing against partying with women, but whatever. This could be the start of a rumored heel turn for Flair, and at the very least, it's somebody's Very Petty Way of airing real backstage grievances on national TV (some WWE officials/writers don't appreciate the lack of focus/attention by some stars at TV tapings, and instead of admitting it's their own fault for producing a show that is frequently a D-plus effort not WORTH paying attention to, they decide to get all pissy at the wrestlers for not "respecting the business" enough).
    Shawn Michaels won a Three Way #1 Contender's Match over Edge and Randy Orton. Random Observation: Michaels is still wearing DX gear and entering to DX music. Significant or not? Opening segment was mostly Edge and Orton effectively double-teaming HBK, with hope spots for Michaels peppered in. After about 3 minutes, they did a spot where Michaels powdered out, and Orton tried to set up Edge for the RKO, but Edge saw it coming, and instead decided to give Orton a talking-to (which led to us taking an ad break). Edge and Michaels did an extended sequence once we were back from the break (following a spot in which the two ducked simultaneously, and Orton went crashing to the outside, where he could stay safely out of the way of the more talented performers). Orton eventually stepped back in to break up a nearfall by HBK, and then Michaels was on the defensive again. This time, however, any time he was in danger of being pinned, either Edge or Orton would break the count, which eventually led to the two heels bickering and coming to blows. Orton got the better of that, but then Michaels was ready for his comeback. Flying Burrito on Orton. Inverted Atomic on Orton. Macho Man Elbow for Edge.  Tuning up the band, but Orton blocks the superkick... Edge picks that moment to charge, but Michaels spins out of the way, and Orton gets Speared. Edge is superkicked out of the ring, Michaels pins Orton's carcass, and just like that: Shawn Michaels is going to WrestleMania 23 to face John Cena. Really good match, with Michaels believably going over and with more than enough seeds sown if they decide to move ahead at full speed with Orton vs. Edge (though I wish they wouldn't, cuz Orton can't be a face to save his life, and Edge loses about 80% of his Fun Factor as a babyface).
    Superfluous Cameo Appearances. Michaels got no time to celebrate, because John Cena hit the ring to go face-to-face with his Mania Challenger. Some boos there, so it'll be interesting to see how Michaels plays it (if he TRIES to heel it up a little bit, or not; frankly, I'd like to see him do it, but that just make him even more popular with a large percentage of the fanbase). Their face-to-face is interrupted when, apropos of nothing, Batista's music hits and he stands on the stage looking smug. Which, in turn, is interrupted by Taker's music, and him showing up right next to Batista. Now we have TWO SIMULTANEOUS STAREDOWNS HAPPENING. BAH GAWD, TWO TITLES MATCHES FOR WRESTLEMANIA!!!!! And then, instead of ending on that Quiet Intensity, they suddenly start playing John Cena's music to wrap up the show. Why? Don't ask me.
    Pretty solid show, eh?
  • Ratings for last week were pretty happy stories all across the board. 
    RAW did a 4.1 last Monday, up a tick, and continuing the trend of strong performances since the end of football (though still three-tenths off the pace from the same time last year).
    ECW did a 1.7 rating, which doesn't sound like any great shakes (and it isn't), but it's still up about a third of a point from recent averages. Expect Vince McMahon to credit himself with the gains, since he did make a guest appearance. Which is fine with me. As long as he doesn't credit Test wrestling in the main event.
    TNA did a 1.0 rating. Maybe down a tick from recent averages, but as always, keep in mind that no matter what Nielsen says, fluctuations that minute aren't statistically significant, and you gots to stay focused on the trends.
    And SD! did a 3.1 rating, I believe tying their best rating to date on the CW Network, so that's good news. It was a good, strong show, too. You can start feeling a bit of electricity between Taker and Batista, and it's becoming a lot of fun watching Kennedy rocket up in value with each passing week. Also: if the Boogeyman gets pinned by Finlay's midget in a match and then goes away forever, I'd consider that to be a good thing.
  • I skipped MTV's Wrestling Society X in those ratings notes because I want to give it a Whole Bullet Point of Its Own.
    For starters, the "official" debut of the show did an astounding 1.0 cable rating last Tuesday (head-to-head with the second half of ECW on Sci-Fi), which has people at WWE more concerned than you might think and which also has a few TNA folks miffed that they could soon be the #5 wrestling brand if they aren't careful. WSX has also been averaging a 0.4 in other, off-peak repeat/late night time slots, which is pretty big by MTV standards.
    Those numbers have GOT to be considered a huge success for the group. But what'll really count is whether or not they hold up in coming weeks... for my part? I'll give the show another look or two, but if it's the same basic production as the opening week, I'll just walk away.
    The show was just completely unappealing to me in its pacing and production.... which I'm sure is fine for an entire generation of mentally-stunted teenagers who can't be bothered to think linearly about a single issue for more than 4 seconds at a time, but it doesn't work for me. It will, in the end, be impossible to build characters when your "promos" consist of crap-ass 3 second soundbites. And even worse: it will NEVER be fun watching WSX matches when they are so obviously chopped up and re-assembled to fit the time constraints.
    I'm dead-serious about this: it's also a distraction in TNA (when 2 or 3 times every episode, you can see/hear the edits they make to promos and matches), but it's an outright epidemic in WSX's first week. In two matches, I doubt we saw more than a half-dozen or so genuine transitions between spots. Instead it was "spot"/cutaway-to-something-retarded/"spot"... and the actual temporal distance between the two spots? It might have been 10 seconds, but it might have been 2 minutes. Who the hell knows? All I know is that if I can't believe that one exchange logically flows from the preceding one, I'm not gonna give much of a rat's ass about any of WSX's "matches." They're not matches. They're SportsCenter condensed highlight packages. Just with even less psychology.
    On top of that, you throw in some of the most pitiful props/gimmicks (usually in the category of "Exploding Somethingorother") ever seen on TV as well as the single most awful duo of zero-value-add commentators it has ever been my displeasure to endure, and you got something that isn't gonna hold my attention for very long.
    Then again: I'm not 15 years old and braindead, so I'm quite certain I'm outside of the target demographic, and MTV couldn't care less what I think.
  • While on the subject of not-quite-wrestling shows on Viacom-owned networks, VH-1 picked up the rights to "Armed and Famous." There were four episodes aired on CBS, and either one or two additional ones that were produced-but-not-aired which are now gonna show up on VH-1, if you care.
    For whatever it's worth, a few readers forwarded a Trish interview about the demise of the show. She was diplomatic and all, but didn't seem to mind too much that she was finally gonna have some free-time, now. Because, as it turns out, Trish didn't think that Muncie, IN, was all that great a place to get stuck having your honeymoon and she was looking forward to finally "getting to enjoy my husband." I bet you are, you insatiable minx....
  • Speaking of dearly-departed Canadians conducting interviews.... Chris Jericho just did one in which he admitted that he's "starting to get back into the flow of being a wrestling fan." No promises whatsoever about returning to action anytime soon, but if he's watching again, that's a start, right? RIGHT?!?!?!!?
    We can hope.
    A curious element to the interview is that Jericho said he's only watching RAW and TNA. Which I choose to interpret as Chris Jericho's Super Crafty Triple Reverse Psychology Way of saying "I'll be returning to SmackDown! in time for WrestleMania." Because I am a naive fool.
  • How about an Interview That Never Happened? Because John Cena was pulled from the Craig Ferguson show last week, when it was decided the company needed him at the SD! tapings on Tuesday night. Cena'd been on all the advance schedules, but then on Monday, word came out that WWE yanked him from the show.
    It's a shame, actually. Not only has Ferguson established himself as the Best Monologue In Late Night, but he was also on the bandwagon of mocking K-Fed's appearance on RAW, so it could have been fun seeing him and Cena do some riffing on that subject. Or maybe Cena would have been in total Wigger Shill Mode, talking about his stupid DVD being released? I dunno....
  • Roddy Piper is also up and around and doing phone interviews when he can. He says his recovery from Hodgkin's Disease is going well, and re-iterated that it is his goal to be at WrestleMania 23 to show the world that he whupped cancer's ass. Because he's so totally trying to hold Matt Cappotelli down by stealing his gimmick. [conan] I'ma gonna go to hell when I die, I saida I'ma gonna go to hell when I die. [/conan]
    Also of note in a few of the interviews I've seen.... Piper says he's talked with John Carpenter about starring in "They Live: The TV Series." Oh man, I"d be SOOOOO there if that comes together. Greatest movie with a wrestler EVER. Greatest movie fight scene EVER. Just plain great.
  • Samoa Joe has announced that he'll no longer be competing for Ring of Honor following one last tour next month. Though some are acting like this is the end of the universe, it's a simple case of Joe knowing which side of his bread is buttered. His body is starting to show signs of wear and tear, and in order to commit himself to being a major national star for TNA, he needs to throttle back.
    In exchange, TNA is said to be ready to reward Joe's loyalty with a renewed push, and possibly his first real TNA Title shots, over the next few months.
    Joe apparently also has value to TNA as something of a calming influence in the locker room, almost as a go-between between the "stars" and the homegrown TNA guys. Apparently, morale is taking a hit because of the perks given to guys like Angle, Sting, Christian, Nash, Jarrett, the soon-to-return Scott Steiner, et al... and Joe stands out as unique in the sense that he has credibility with both factions.
    It's still a situation TNA should probably monitor, though. I know if it was me, I'd start by just not bringing back Steiner to suck up resources while adding nothing to the show. But I believe that decision has already been made, and if you're paying attention to TNA TV, you should know exactly when and where he'll be showing up. [And then the countdown will be on to Angle vs. Steiner in the Battle of Frail Bodies In Which One Man Must Be Permanently Crippled Before The Match Can End!]
  • Sometimes, I hate being right. Such was the case when TNA finalized its TV plans for next week... as I'd warned over a week ago: TNA is opting to use their "three hour block" next Thursday by simply airing a regular episode of Impact, and pairing it with a replay of the "Best of" show that'll debut on Monday. 
    Meh. Instead of seeing what kind of a dent they might make against a displaced edition of RAW, TNA seems content to just try to hold service. If Impact's ratings next week stay around 1.0, then TNA can claim a moral victory, I guess.... but they won't really have learned anything interesting or useful about how much of a "swing audience" there is out there, or how effective they might be in capturing some percentage of it.
    Along the same lines: the buzz is that TNA and Spike are very close to finalizing the deal to expand Impact to 2 hours every week. But before folks start flying off the handle again about how this means the return of the Monday Night Wars, I'd warn that Spike and TNA would be damned fools to move Impact out of its comfy Thursday night slot just out of spite. So just be happy with the notion of 2 hours of TNA; but don't go getting worked up about the return of Channel Flippy Mondays.
  • I think that's enough for today, kids.... oh wait: before I forget, a bunch of people did e-mail in a week or so ago, asking why -- when I spent 2 paragraphs rambling about the god-awful programming on E! Network -- I didn't remember to mock "The Simple Life." The real answer is probably "I thought it was on FOX, and that it was cancelled ages ago." But upon further contemplation, my Better Answer for why I didn't mock is this: "Because, as long as The Simple Life is on TV, if Paris Hilton is found strangled to death in an alley somewhere, the perpetrator will get off scot-free, because there will be ample TV evidence that it was a justifiable homicide."
    And NOW that's enough for today, kids... see you again as soon as the wrestling world makes it worth our while to speak again!

SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28



Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.




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